My DIY Hamster Cage Project

I created a hamster habitat from a ready-to-assemble cabinet and added accessories that make it a virtual paradise for my Syrian hamster.

Petunia had no idea she was about to have a hamster mansion! Courtesy of Erin Ramsey

By Erin Ramsey

Meet Petunia! She is a 9-month-old Syrian hamster whom I adopted earlier this year. I wanted to give her the best habitat possible, so I did some research. The recommended space for a Syrian hamster is approximately 350 square inches. This is based on suggestions from people in the hamster community. Europe seems to have a better handle on cage size requirements. Germans like the cages really big!

I found that some people were using the IKEA DETOLF cabinet as a hamster habitat. It’s a glass cabinet made to display collectibles. It measures 16 3/4 by 14 3/8 by 64 1/8 inches. Laid on its side on a sturdy surface, it provides more than 1,000 square inches of habitat, which is almost triple the recommended space for Syrian hamsters. Petunia was going to have lots of space!

IKEA DETOLF Hamster Cage Set Up

First, I had to get the DETOLF. It comes in two boxes that are very long and heavy. It is recommended that this is a two-person job, although I did do it by myself. I would not do it alone again.

boxes on cart
Courtesy of Erin Ramsey
These boxes were heavy and awkward. 

I mentioned that the DETOLF needs a sturdy surface to rest on. The dresser that fits nicely with the DETOLF is the Malm from IKEA.

Courtesy of Erin Ramsey
The Malm dresser makes a perfect “stand” for holding the DETOLF cabinet.

Once I had the DETOLF home, it just took three steps to get it ready.

  1. Assemble cabinet as instructed.
  2. Flip the cabinet on its back and set it on the Malm dresser.
  3. Add all hamster accessories. No really. It’s that easy.

three photos showing assembly of cage
Courtesy of Erin Ramsey
The new hamster habitat quickly took shape!

I would not be using the glass door that came with the cabinet, but I did need a lid to cover what was now the top of the hamster habitat. I made the lids with wood and mesh from Home Depot after watching some how-to videos on YouTube. There are many how-to videos for this.

lids on cabinet
Courtesy of Erin Ramsey
The lids were the final touch to the new hamster habitat.

Petunia’s Place

I arranged everything to my liking, but the true test was to see what Petunia thought about her new home. I captured her reactions on video. She really seemed to enjoy exploring.

I switch accessories in and out and buy new ones to keep things interesting. I’ve even tried different bedding.  You can see a video featuring a beach theme and one featuring dig-blue bedding.

Petunia exploring her cage
Courtesy of Erin Ramsey
Petunia really enjoyed exploring everything in her new cage.

I enjoy thinking of new ways to keep Petunia happy and make her home interesting. The DETOLF has been perfect for her.

different looks for hamster cage
Courtesy of Erin Ramsey
These are just some of the different “looks” that Petunia’s habitat has had.

Below is a list of some of the accessories I’ve used:

  • Battery-operated star lights from Pier 1 Imports. It’s recommended to use low brightness or red lighting to keep the simulation of darkness for your hamster.
  • Wodent Wheel exercise wheel
  • Flying Saucer exercise wheel
  • Reptile Cave
  • Sand Dish
  • Sand is play sand from Home Depot. Used in the litter tray. Before adding any play sand to the habitat, it’s recommended to spread it in an oven-safe baking dish and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes to sanitize and dry it. Cool before putting it in the habitat.
  • Sand for the sand dish can be reptile sand or the play sand (see note above about sanitizing play sand).
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Article Categories:
Critters · Hamsters · Lifestyle

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